Paul White, 43, of Drayton had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and health and safety charges at Norwich Crown Court after the horrific death of 36-year-old employee Kevin Arnold in 2003.

Mr Arnold was killed when he climbed into a paper-shredding machine to clear blockages and the machine, which contained a series of rapidly-spinning hammers, restarted.

The subsequent Health & Safety Executive investigation revealed the machine was not securely isolated when such unblocking work took place, the electrics were clogged with dust and there was no safety procedure in place to reduce the risk of such accidents.

“Tragic incidents in the workplace such as this are totally preventable,£ said Minister for Health and Safety, Lord Hunt.

“All employers must make the welfare of their employees a top priority by ensuring that safe systems of work are provided and maintained.

“There is also a need to make certain that employees are properly instructed in how to operate machinery to guard against any threat of injury or death.”

Paul Carter, HSE investigating officer, said: “This was a horrific incident that was entirely foreseeable.

“Isolating the machinery, a safe system of work for clearing blockages together with adequate instruction, training and supervision of Paul White’s staff would have prevented this incident.

“Evidence showed that Paul White chose not to follow the advice of his health and safety consultant and instead adopted a complacent attitude allowing the standards in his paper recycling business to fall.

“I encourage all employers to take a fresh look at their business activities, review their risk assessments to ensure sensible control measures are in place and that employees understand what is expected of them.”

As well as the jail sentence, White’s firm, M W White Ltd was fined £30,000 while court costs of £55,000 were shared equally between White personally and the company.

The Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 clearly states that managers, directors and other senior figures can be held liable for any breaches of the act and cannot hide behind the company, holding it solely responsible.

By Sam Bond

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